It takes just 40 weeks for a fertilized egg to grow into a healthy baby. By the end of the first trimester of a woman's pregnancy, her baby is already forming hair, nails, vocal cords and muscles. Throughout the second trimester, Mother Nature concentrates on the development of features that take an alien-like-fetus to cute baby. Hair continues to grow and eyes and ears shift toward their final position. The senses also start to develop. The third and final trimester of pregnancy is a busy time. Fine tuning of hair, nails, skin and bones take place and the digestive system and senses develop in preparation for life outside the womb. The brain develops at a rapid pace, but that's not the only thing growing. The size of your baby during the third trimester of pregnancy more than doubles, growing from about two and a half pounds and 16 inches long to between six to nine pounds and 19 to 22 inches long.
Finally, your baby is born. They're more beautiful than you could have ever imagined. With their button nose, ten little fingers and ten little toes they are perfect in every way. You are relieved they don't look the spawn of satan you gave birth to in the nightmare you had six weeks ago. No, they look like your typical human, just on the smaller scale.
Your baby might look like your average human, but what lays beneath the surface is much more complex. Keep reading to discover 15 facts about babies that will make you say, "You are kidding right?"
15 They Are Strongmen In Disguise
Okay, well not exactly the next Mr. Olympia, your newborn is stronger than you think. He might look weak and helpless, but your infant's reflex called palmar grasp is thought to be so powerful that it may be able to support their own body weight. This primitive reflex is evident as early as 16 weeks in utero and normally continues up until about six months after birth.
Many parents experiment with palmar grasp by stroking their infant’s palms with their opposing little fingers. Out of instinct the child’s fingers close and grab the fingers with palmar grasp. The parent can then slowly lift the infant to see if their grasp is able to support them. A note of caution.
A note of caution. If you are going to try this at home, do it on a bed and with someone spotting your baby as they may release their grip suddenly and without warning.
14 They See In Black, White And Shades of Gray
A newborn’s visual system takes time to develop. It will take between six to eight months before your baby will see the world as well as you do. While your baby’s eyes are physically capable of fully functioning from birth, it takes time for the brain to process all the visual information around it.
For the first few weeks, your baby won’t see much detail. It has been estimated he can only see objects about eight to twelve inches in front of him, about the distance between your face and your babies while you feed them. While they notice light, shapes and movement, it will be blurry. Seeing in color happens gradually too. For the first weeks of life a baby sees in black, white and shades of gray. Seeing color usually begins several months after birth.
To encourage the development of your baby’s eye sight try slowly moving a brightly-colored toy around in front of his face. See if he can follow it from side to side or up and down. Between three and four months old, most babies can do this.
13 They Menstruate
Augh, puberty was a terrible time for us girls with our hormones whack, our changing bodies and a bunch of peers who only made us feel worse by judging our every move. While we knew from the start that having kids meant getting them through this awkward stage, we thought we had a good eight to 14 years before we would have to do it.
Yes, baby girls can bleed a little at around two or three days of age, but this is perfectly normal and caused by the withdrawal of the hormones she was exposed to in the womb. Sharp drops in the hormone estrogen and related hormones are in fact what triggers menstruation in adult women. After the birth of your baby the estrogen levels she was exposed to drop rapidly and can cause what it is called pseudomenstruation. It should be your little girl’s only menstrual period for another decade or so!
12 They Are Capable Of Elementary Math
It’s true, your baby’s brain is capable of doing elementary math, but don’t worry, scientists won’t be scooping your baby up and hauling him away to run tests on him in an experimental nursery anytime soon.
In one particular study, it was found babies as young as five months old had a rudimentary ability to add and subtract. “The study seems to show that infants know when simple calculations like one plus one or two minus one are done correctly or incorrectly. The infants in the study indicated awareness that a wrong answer was given by staring longer at the unexpected results,” reported the New York Times.
While findings of the study might be surprising to parents, it isn’t news to researchers who have been studying the topic for years and claim findings from the study combined with corroborating research on infants and animals only solidifies their theory that humans have an innate propensity for mathematics.
11 They Are Innately Shallow
Invading our TVs and social media feeds, in private and public settings, the physically attractive stereotype is everywhere. It is a lot to live up to these days. The wavy hair, full face of makeup and toned body. Who is to blame? Don’t be so fast to point fingers at today's society.
In an experiment called Facial Diversity and Infant Preferences for Attractive Faces, three studies examined infant preference for attractive faces in four types of faces: white adult male and female, black adult female faces and infant faces. The studies found that infants viewed pairs of faces, previously rated for attractiveness by adults, in a visual preference paradigm. Significant preferences were found for attractive faces across all facial types.”
The study matched up with earlier reports of this phenomenon, confirming the idea that we are innately shallow beings, drawn toward the good looking.
10 Their Fingerprints Are Formed Based On The Environment Of The Womb
Toward the end of the third month of pregnancy through to the sixth month, your baby’s fingers form. Completely unique to your newborn, the ridges, arches, whorls and loops of their fingers will most likely identify them throughout their entire life. Unless of course they have been mutilated in order to change them.
It is obvious genetics play a big role in determining the basic size, shape and spacing of a baby’s fingerprints. Did you know the environment of the womb can play a role too?
Finer details of a baby’s fingerprints are determined by environmental factors of the womb such as the baby’s position, the size of the womb and the content of the surrounding amniotic fluid that swirls around in the womb.
With the baby’s genetic wiring, his activity and the makeup of the mother all different, the chances of the same pair of fingerprints forming twice are less than slim.
9 They Can Be Born Twice
When a baby is born it usually happens just as God intended it to, or via C-section, and it only happens once for good reason.
However, Maci McCartney, daughter of Chad and Keri McCartney, was the rare exception. Back in 2008, the McCartney’s were devastated to find out their baby had a deadly tumor the size of a grapefruit during a routine ultrasound.
The family’s obstetrician had no experience dealing with tumors. After some research, their doctor discovered the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, just six hours away from where they family resided, specialized in such conditions.
During the end of her second trimester, Keri McCartney underwent an operation in which surgeons from the Texas Children’s Hospital took the fetus from her womb, removed the deadly tumor and then put the fetus back in the womb.
Several months later, the McCartney’s daughter was born for the second time, healthy and without a tumor.
8 They Have Got Baby Boobage
We’ve known the purpose of women’s boobs for hundreds of years and the purpose of men’s boobs, according to Live Science, just has to do with how humans develop in the womb.
Ian Tattersall, paleoanthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City said, “Basically, males and females are all built from the same genetic blueprint. Then, they develop in slightly different directions in utero and particularly after we hit puberty."
What about babies though? Newborn babies, male and female, can have enlarged breast tissue, small amounts of milk can even leak out of their nipples. Do not fear there is something wrong with your newborn. High maternal estrogen levels cross the placenta into the baby’s blood and can trigger galactorrhea, a milky nipple discharge.
Studies on galactorrhea have concluded that this is a common occurrence among infants and may persist until around two months of age.
7 They Are Mobile From Birth
Many of us think that our baby’s mobility happens months down the road, between six and ten months depending on the baby. Capable of much more than you think, a baby actually has the ability to crawl just moments after birth.
The Karolinska Institute in Sweden first described this phenomenon as the breast crawl in 1987. In an experiment they reported that, “Immediately after birth the child was dried and laid on the mother's chest. In the control group a regular behavioral sequence was observed. After 15 minutes of comparative inactivity, spontaneous sucking and rooting movements occurred, reaching maximal intensity at 45 minutes. The first hand-to-mouth movement was observed at a mean of 34± 2 minutes after birth and at 55+ minutes the infant spontaneously found the nipple and started to suckle.”
While rarely practiced in the Western world these days, the breast crawl is an instinctive process with many advantages. It not only encourages early and long term breastfeeding success for the mother that plans to breastfeed, but offers a number of other health benefits for mother and baby. It helps a mother’s uterine contractions after birth, a faster expulsion of the placenta, reduces maternal blood loss and prevents anemia. As for the baby, it can lead to better sugar levels and other biochemical parameters in the first several hours after birth and boost the development of a baby’s nervous system.
6 Skin To Skin Contact Can Save Their Life
Skin-to-skin contact with your baby is as simple as it sounds and any parent is capable of doing it. It comes with many benefits for you and your baby. Skin-to-skin touch with your newborn triggers oxytocin, the love hormone, helping you bond with her baby. Father’s can experience a similar response. What’s in it for your newborn? It keeps him warm, helps regulate his breathing and heartbeat, keeps blood sugar levels at optimum levels and helps build up a baby’s immune system from infections.
Based on the story of David and Kate Oggs, skin-to-skin contact works miracles too. In 2010 Kate Ogg gave birth to twins prematurely after just 27 weeks of pregnancy. Doctors pronounced one of the twins dead after birth. The baby was put across Kate’s bare chest, so that she could say goodbye. Kate started to notice signs of life, and instructed her husband to take off his shirt and provide additional skin-to-skin-touch for warmth. While doctors insisted the movements were only reflexes, not signs of life, the couple refused to give up on their baby. It wasn't long before the little boy, Jamie, opened his eyes. Today he is living life to the fullest, happy and healthy.
5 Their Taste Is Influenced By Yours
The whole jar of pickles you put on your sandwich, that extra spicy curry, bags and bags of potato chips and that big bowl of ice cream. While you might think pregnancy is a great excuse to eat what you want when you want to remember, your baby is what you eat and their likes and dislikes of food and drinks in the future is highly influenced by what you eat and drink during pregnancy.
From about 21 weeks of pregnancy, a baby starts to drink amniotic fluid daily, and that fluid is flavored by the food and drinks consumed by their mother. Vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise and mint are among flavors that are thought to transmit strong flavors to amniotic fluid. Julie Mennella, an expert on infants taste at the Monell Chemical Senses Center said, “There isn't a single flavor they have found that doesn't show up in utero.”
So next time you are making the choice between that box of Hershey Milk Duds and an apple, choose the latter.
4 They Are Born With A Staggering 300 Bones
Everybody has a skeleton made up of bones. They give the body structure, freedom to move in different ways and protect the internal organs. While a grown adult has 206 bones, it might come as a surprise that babies have around 300 bones, giving them the ability to twist and bend in every which way.
Babies are soft, squishy and small. How is it possible their head, torso and limbs house more bones than an adult’s? What is the purpose of all those bones? And what happens to them as a baby grows?
According to Parenting, cartilage, a resilient and smooth elastic tissue, creates spaces between a baby’s bones. This makes it easier for a baby's body to contort into unusual positions that allow him to fit comfortably in the confines of the womb and pass easier through the birth canal during child birth. Throughout your child’s life, bones will eventually fuse together replacing the cartilage. This is provided your baby gets an adequate amount of calcium.
3 They've Been Practicing Speech Since They Were In Utero
That silly argument you got into with your partner about taking out the trash, spilling your deepest, darkest secrets to your best friend over the phone and the small talk you made with your next door neighbor when you were headed out the door to work the other day, your baby heard it all.
Although your baby won’t probably start saying his first words until about age one, he can hear your voice as well as the sounds around you from 23 weeks of pregnancy. Don’t be afraid to talk, sing and read to your baby throughout your pregnancy. The more he hears in utero, the better his language skills are likely to be later in life. If your baby likes what he hears, he might even respond by moving around more or giving a strong kick.
It is sure to make you choose your words more wisely and prepare you for toddlerhood, a period your little one will copy everything they hear you say!
2 Their Head Makes Up 25 Percent Of Their Body
Feeling guilty for thoughts like, “my what a big head he has,” and “how will that little guy ever have the neck muscles to hold that large head of his up?” after meeting your friends newborn? Don’t feel too bad. It is just a fact that babies have disproportionately big heads and this can make them look a little funny. A baby’s head is so large in fact, it makes up twenty-five percent of the entire newborn body.
Your doctor will take measurements of your baby’s head circumference during his routine baby wellness checks over the first years of his life. These are important as they assess the development of a baby’s brain. If it turns out your baby’s head is bigger or smaller than other babies’ head sizes in the same age range, your doctor may do further testing to rule out health issues like hydrocephalus, excess fluid in the brain, and lack of normal brain development.
1 They Urinate As Much As You Do
It is the one thing the moms in your life conveniently forgot to mention to you when you told them you were trying for a baby. Postpartum, the joke is on you. Your bladder will never be the same again. You laugh, you pee a little. You run, you pee a little. While you used to hit the loo six times a day, now it is 12. At least there is common ground between you and your newborn, who urinates just as frequently.
It's a rule of thumb that the parent of a healthy newborn baby should be changing six to eight heavily wet diapers per 24 hours after the second day of their baby’s birth, estimating they pee once or twice per hour, just like mom.
While doctor’s remedy for a mom who suffers bladder incontinence is to religiously do kegels and pray for good luck, your baby’s bladder, on the other hand, will develop as your baby gains the necessary physical and cognitive skills to control their bladder between 18 and 24 months.